Metal-doped sol-gel materials, suitable for use as sensors for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopic analysis for trace chemical detection, are produced by effecting gelation and solvent removal of a doped sol-gel under mild temperature conditions. At least in certain instances reaction and drying will desirably be effected in an oxygen-starved environment. The metal of the sol-gel material functions, when irradiated, to produce a plasmon field for interaction with molecules of an analyte in contact therewith, increasing by orders of magnitude Raman photons that are generate by excitation radiation, and the method allows matching of the metal and metal particle size to a wavelength of light (or incident radiation, e.g., laser radiation) to generate surface plasmons. The porosity of the sol-gel material dramatically increases the surface area, and thereby the amount of metal exposed for analyte interaction. The sensors provided may be in the form of glass vials, fiber optics, multi-well micro-sample plates, etc., having surface coatings of the doped sol-gel material, to provide sampling systems for use in a Raman instrument.